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U.S. recovers $2.3 million in bitcoin paid in the Colonial Pipeline ransom

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A sign warns consumers on the avaliability of gasoline at a RaceTrac gas station on May 11, 2021, in Smyrna, Georgia.

Elijah Nouvelage | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – U.S. law enforcement officials said Monday they were able to recover $2.3 million in bitcoin paid to a criminal cybergroup involved in the crippling ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

“Today we turned the tables on DarkSide,” Lisa Monaco, Department of Justice deputy attorney general, said during a press briefing, adding that the money was seized via a court order.

Alongside Monaco, FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate explained that agents were able to identify a virtual currency wallet that the DarkSide hackers used to collect payment from Colonial Pipeline.

“Using law enforcement authority, victim funds were seized from that wallet, preventing Dark Side actors from using them,” Abbate said.

The FBI declined to say precisely how it accessed the bitcoin wallet, citing the need to protect tradecraft.

But Elvis Chan, assistant special agent in charge, told reporters that even foreign-based cybercriminals like DarkSide typically use American infrastructure at some point in the course of a crime. When they do, it gives the FBI a legal window to recover the funds.

DarkSide operates as a “ransomware as a service” business model, which means its hackers develop and market ransomware hacking tools, and sell them to other criminal “affiliates” who then carry out attacks.

It is still unclear who DarkSide’s affiliates were in the Colonial Pipeline attack.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco announces the recovery of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency from the Colonial Pipeline Co. ransomware attacks as she speaks during a news conference with FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Stephanie Hinds at the Justice Department in Washington, June 7, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Last month DarkSide launched a sweeping ransomware assault on Colonial Pipeline. The cyberattack forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of American fuel pipeline, leading to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast fuel supply and causing gasoline shortages in the Southeast.

Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a ransom in exchange for the release of data.

Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million ransom to the hackers, one source familiar with the situation confirmed to CNBC. It was not immediately clear when the transaction took place.

The FBI has previously warned victims of ransomware attacks that paying a ransom could encourage further malicious activity.

The government has stopped short of moving to ban ransomware payments altogether, out of concern that it would have little impact on whether or not companies pay ransoms and simply discourage them from reporting attacks.

The public announcement was part of a broader effort to counter the private sector’s longstanding reluctance to publicly report cyberattacks and involve the government in its responses.

“The message here today is that [if you report the attack], we will bring all of our tools to bear to go after these criminal networks,” Monaco said.

Officials stressed the advantages to be gained by companies that report cyber breaches quickly to the FBI.

“Victim reporting not only can give us the information we need to have an immediate real-world impact on the actors … it can also prevent future harm from occurring,” Abbate said.

“The private sector also has an equally important role to play and we must continue to take cyber threats seriously and invest accordingly to harden our defenses,” Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount said in a statement Monday evening.

“As our investigation into this event continues, Colonial will continue its transparency in sharing intelligence and learnings with the FBI and other federal agencies,” he said.

After the attack by DarkSide, President Joe Biden told reporters that the U.S. did not currently have intelligence linking the group’s ransomware attack to the Russian government. Although, the assault is believed to have originated from a criminal organization in Russia. 

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia, they have some responsibility to deal with this,” Biden said on May 10. He added that he would discuss the situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders are slated to meet in Geneva on June 16.

The Kremlin has denied that it launched cyberattacks against the United States.

“The President’s message will be that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals, and responsible countries must take decisive action against these ransomware networks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in advance of the summit.

The Biden administration is also putting pressure on the private sector to shore up its defenses against ransomware.

“All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location,” wrote Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, in a June 2 memo.

“To understand your risk, business executives should immediately convene their leadership teams to discuss the ransomware threat and review corporate security posture and business continuity plans to ensure you have the ability to continue or quickly restore operations,” she added.

At the same time, the White House is grappling with how to modernize cybersecurity protocols and banking laws to respond to cryptocurrency and its growing role in financial crimes, from ransomware to corruption.

The prevalence of cryptocurrency in crimes like ransomware attacks has also drawn the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

“We have a lot of cash requirements in our country, but we haven’t figured out, in the country or in the world, how to trace cryptocurrency,” Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt said Sunday on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”

“You can’t trace the ransomware — the ransom payment of choice now. And we’ve got to do a better job here,” he added.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/07/us-recovers-some-of-the-money-paid-in-the-colonial-pipeline-ransom-officials-say.html

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‘Trek to Yomi’ is a Kurosawa-inspired 2D samurai game coming in 2022

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If you played through the entirety of Ghost of Tsushima in Kurosawa mode and it left you wanting for more cinematic samurai action, you’ll want to look out for Trek to Yomi. Announced today during Devolver Digital’s E3 presentation, the 2.5D side-scroller sees you play as a young samurai charged with protecting their town and its inhabitants. You’ll face off against both human and supernatural enemies. Like Tsushima, the game attempts to emulate the look of Akira Kurosawa’s films. Judging by the trailer, it does a pretty good job of it too.          

Developed by Flying Wild Hog and Leonard Menchiari, Trek to Yomi will come out on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC in 2022. 

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/trek-to-yomi-2022-211810467.html?src=rss_b2c

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‘Far Cry 6′ will bring back the series’ best villains (if you pay more)

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Far Cry 6 will see the return of past villains from the franchise as playable characters in post-launch DLC included with the game’s season pass. As you can see from the trailer below, Vass Montenegro, Pagan Min and Joseph Seed from Far Cry 3, 4 and 5 are back, with Michael Mando, Troy Baker and Greg Bryk reprising their roles. If that amount of fan service wasn’t enough, the season pass will also include Far Cry 3’s excellent Blood Dragon DLC.

Ubisoft will release Far Cry 6 on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Stadia on October 7th.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/far-cry-6-season-pass-204352211.html?src=rss_b2c

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Ubisoft’s Avatar game will arrive in 2022

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Ubisoft’s Avatar game is finally starting to take shape. The game publisher has revealed that Massive Entertainment’s newly-named Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will be available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Luna and Stadia sometime in 2022. Yes, that’s right — unlike some of Ubi’s other recent games, there won’t be versions for last-gen consoles.

There isn’t much to say about the plot of the first-person action game at this point, but you’ll play as a Na’vi traveling across the “never-before-seen” Western Frontier of Pandora. Not surprisingly, you’ll have to deal with both the planet’s wildlife as well as the human RDA forces determined to exploit the world for all it’s worth. The Avatar title will take advantage of the newest version of Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine, and it’s clear that will involve a lot of visual detail befitting James Cameron’s CG world.

The timing will be convenient. Cameron’s repeatedly delayed Avatar sequels should arrive starting December 16th, 2022. The game will no doubt be part of the hype campaign for that movie release. Still, it should be interesting to see how well the eco-conscious sci-fi franchise translates to a video game.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/avatar-frontiers-of-pandora-game-release-date-202716664.html?src=rss_b2c

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‘Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope’ is coming to Switch in 2022

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Nintendo and Ubisoft have teamed up once again for a sequel to Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. The original was a well-received turn-based strategy game that came out in the Switch’s early days. Now, Nintendo and Ubisoft are revisiting the series with Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope.

The sequel will take Mario, Luigi, Peach, Rabbid Rosalina and others beyond the Mushroom Kingdom. They’ll have to save a whole galaxy and face off against a villain named Cursa. However, they’ll have some new allies on their side called Sparks, which look like Rabbid versions of the Lumas from Super Mario Galaxy.

This time around, the developers say they’re adding new action elements to “push the boundaries of tactical games even further.”

The first cinematic and gameplay trailers were shown at the Ubisoft Forward E3 event, but details initially emerged earlier on Saturday. Nintendo appeared to jump the gun with a Sparks of Hope eShop listing that was later taken down. 

Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope is a Nintendo Switch exclusive. It’ll be released in 2022.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/mario-rabbids-sparks-of-hope-nintendo-switch-ubisoft-2022-201632962.html?src=rss_b2c

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